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Laura Jean Bierut, MD

Current Position
Alumni Endowed Professor of Psychiatry

University Roles
Vice Chair for Faculty Development

Education and Training
B.A.: Harvard Radcliffe College, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1982
Medical Degree: Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, 1987
Residency: Psychiatry, Washington University/Barnes Hospital, St. Louis, Missouri, 1991

Major Awards
Sidney I. Schwab Prize in Psychiatry
Washington University Book Award
International Brain Research Organization Award
Tenth Annual Nancy C.A. Roeske, M.D., Certificate of Recognition for Excellence in Medical Student Education awarded by the American Psychiatric Association, 1999/2000
Distinguished Teaching Award voted by students for work as course master of Diseases of the Nervous System: Psychiatry, 1997
Washington University Alumni Award, 2007
NIDA Independent Scientist Award
The Best Doctors in America (Psychiatry), 2009-2016
Washington University Founders Day Award, 2009
Alpha Omega Alpha, 2010
WUSM Distinguished Educator Postdoctoral Research Mentoring Award, 2012
The Alton Ochsner Award Relating Smoking and Disease, 2014
Langley Award for Basic Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, 2018

Areas of Clinical Interest
Smoking behavior, substance dependence, genetically informed clinical care


Areas of Research Interests
As a physician scientist, I have led several studies funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study environmental and genetic contributions to smoking behaviors, addiction and other psychiatric and medical illnesses. I am an active member in the NIDA Genetics Consortium, a national group of scientists who are leading NIDA’s efforts to understand genetic causes of substance dependence. My research group conducted the initial studies which found that the a5 nicotinic receptor subunit genes on chromosome 15 and the a6ß3 nicotinic receptor subunit genes on chromosome 8 increase a smoker’s risk for nicotine dependence. In collaboration with other groups, we have since demonstrated that the same genetic variants that contribute to smoking in the chromosome 15 region also influence the development of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. We are currently exploring how to translate genetic information to guide more effective clinical care. We have ongoing studies of genetic factors and smoking cessation treatment.
Lab website: https://healthbehaviorcenter.wustl.edu

More articles and abstracts at the National Library of Medicine

Key Publications
Olfson, E., Saccone, N. L., Johnson, E. O., Chen, L. S., Culverhouse, R., Doheny, K., . . . Bierut, L. J. (2016). Rare, low frequency, and common coding variants in CHRNA5 and their contribution to nicotine dependence in European and African Americans. Mol Psychiatry, 21(5):601-607.  Full Article ->

Chen LS, Baker TB, Hung RJ, Horton A, Culverhouse R, Hartz S, Saccone N, Cheng I, Deng B, Han Y, Hansen HM, Horsman J, Kim C, Rosenberger A, Aben KK, Andrew AS, Chang S-C, Saum K-U, Dienemann H, Hatsukami DK, Johnson EO, Pande M, Wrensch MR, McLaughlin J, Skaug V, van der Heijden EH, Wampfler J, Wenzlaff A, Woll P, Zienolddiny S, Bickeboller H, Brenner H, Duell EJ, Haugen A, Bruske I, Kiemeney LA, Lazarus P, Marchand LL, Liu G, Mayordomo J, Risch A, Schwartz AG, Teare MD, Wu X, Wiencke JK, Yang P, Zhang Z-F, Spitz MR, Amos CI, Bierut LJ. Genetic risk can be decreased: Quitting smoking decreases and delays lung cancer for smokers with high and low CHRNA5 risk genotypes–a meta-analysis. EBioMedicine, 2016, 11:219-226.   Full Article ->

Olfson E, Hartz S, Carere DA, Green RC, Roberts JS, Bierut LJ, PGen Study Group. Implications of personal genomic testing for health behaviors: the case of smoking. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 2016; 18(12):2273-2277.  Full Article ->

Hartz SM, Horton AC, Hancock DB, Baker TB, Caporaso NE, Chen L-S, Hokanson JE, Lutz SE, Marazita M, McNeil DW, Pato C, Pato M, Johnson EO, Bierut LJ. Genetic correlation between smoking behaviors and schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research, 2017 Mar 8. pii: S0920-9964(17)30111-1.   Full Article ->

Cavazos-Rehg PA, Sowles SJ, Krauss MJ, Agbonavbare V, Grucza R, Bierut L. A content analysis of tweets about high-potency marijuana. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2016; 166:100-8.   Full Article ->

Olfson E, Bloom J, Bertelsen S, Budde JP, Breslau N, Brooks A, Culverhouse R, Chan G, Chen LS, Chorlian D, Dick DM, Edenberg HJ, Hartz S, Hatsukami D, Hesselbrock VM, Johnson EO, Kramer JR, Kuperman S, Meyers JL, Nurnberger J, Porjesz B, Saccone NL, Schuckit MA, Stitzel J, Tischfield JA, Rice JP, Goate A, Bierut LJ. CYP2A6 metabolism in the development of smoking behaviors in young adults. Addict Biol. 2016 Dec 29. doi: 10.1111/adb.12477.  Full Article ->

Funded Research Projects
NIAAA (Co-PI):Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism
NIDA (PI): Nicotine Dependence to Smoking Cessation: Sequencing Common and Rare Variants
NIDA (PI): Washington University Career Development Program in Drug Abuse and Addiction
NIDA (Co-investigator): Smoking, Suicide and Mental Health: Using Policy Change to Probe Causality
NIDA (Co-investigator): Integrating Epigenomics in Human Brain and Genomics of Nicotine Dependence
NIDA (Co-investigator): Enhancing Discovery of HIV Host Genetics Using Drug Abuse and Other Interactions
NIMH (Co-investigator): Center for Genomic Studies on Mental Disorders
NCI (Key Personnel): Cancer Center Support Grant